Sunday, July 16, 2006

Christianphobia

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
- George Orwell, Animal Farm

‘While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption…’
- 2 Peter 2:19

‘It is supposed to be a crime to stir up religious hatred,’ wrote Ann Widdecombe in the Daily Express, ‘but the Gay Police Association either doesn’t know this or doesn’t care.’

Ms. Widdecombe, the MP for Maidstone and The Weald, was referring to an advertisement the Gay Police Association recently placed in the Independent. (Click HERE to see it.) The heading was ‘in the name of the Father.’ Underneath these words a Bible was pictured next to a puddle of blood and the following message:

In the last 12 months the Gay Police Association has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator….Homophobia can never be justified and must never be tolerated.

Ms. Widdecombe noted that this kind of outright attack on a particular religion would never be tolerated where any other faith was concerned. ‘Can anyone imagine the Koran rather than the Bible being featured? Yet the teaching of both faiths (and, indeed, others) is against homosexual acts. Why pick on Christianity?’

The answer to this question is a phenomenon that Ms. Widdecombe calls ‘Christophobia’:

‘What, other than Christophobia, determines that Christmas must be renamed? That Christmas lights must be called festival lights? That nativity displays must be forbidden?

That hot cross buns are banned from some schools? That it is acceptable to mock Christ in shows such as Jerry Springer – The Opera in a way that would cause riots if done to the Prophet Mohammed?


THOUGHT POLICE

‘Chrstophobia’, Ms. Widdecombe believes, explains why the police have become obsessed with ‘homophobic incidents,’ many of which involve Christians simply expressing the viewpoint that homosexuality is wrong.

In a society where certain religious convictions (e.g. the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality) are taboo, many people are finding it helpful to speak of ‘thought crimes.’

In a Speech given to the House of Lords earlier this year, the Rt Revd N. T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, lamented the way our police are increasingly patrolling ideas and beliefs. ‘And since the crimes in question have to do, not with actions but with ideas and beliefs, what we are seeing is thought crime’ remarked Bishop Wright.

‘People in my diocese have told me that they are now afraid to speak their minds in the pub on some major contemporary issues for fear of being reported, investigated, and perhaps charged…. The word for such a state of affairs is “tyranny”: sudden moral climate change, enforced by thought police.’

The Bishop’s words were echoed by Rev Dr. Nigel Scotland. In a letter to the Times on 6th June, Mr. Scotland expressed concerns that the Government was trying to end religious freedom:

‘By telling us that there is only one way to think on moral issues the Government is dangerously near to becoming the Orwellian thought police…. By outspoken advocacy that all sexual orientations are equally valid, the government is denying freedom of religion to the great majority of Jews, Christians, Muslims and numerous other smaller religious groups whose sacred texts clearly do discriminate against homosexual practice. Perhaps it is well to remind ourselves that Magna Carta granted freedom of religion ‘for us and our heirs for ever.’


UNIFORMITY

In the first week of June, the Government finished consulting on Regulations that could spell the final death-blow to religious liberty in Britain. In the Autumn, the Government is expected to try to railroad these Regulations through Parliament. These Regulations would make discrimination against homosexuality a civil offence in almost all public functions. As Melanie Phillips observed in the Daily Mail on 19th June,

'…church schools…will no longer be permitted to teach in sex education or RE lessons that homosexuality is at odds with the teachings of the Bible. They might have to comply with parental demands that there should be lessons promoting gay issues - for example, by taking part in the recent 'Lesbian, Bi-sexual Gay and Transsexual History Month'…. They would compel the promotion of homosexuality in schools - and forbid the promotion of Christian or other religious beliefs on the matter.

'Lawyers say that the regulations would mean churches, mosques or synagogues would be breaking the law if they refused to hire out their halls for gay civil partnership ceremonies. Clergymen would be compelled to bless 'gay marriages' on pain of breaking the law. It might even become illegal for a priest to refuse to give communion to someone on the grounds that they were a practising gay or lesbian.'


Although these Regulations are an extension of the Equality Bill, many feel they would be better described by the word Uniformity or Identicality. ‘This is not equality,’ argued Melanie Phillips, ‘but what might be called “identicality”, or the enforcement of sameness even where circumstances are not the same at all…. That is the problem with the gay rights programme. It does not preach tolerance for gays; instead, it stands for the destruction of the very notion that heterosexuality is the norm….’

These regulations would force organisations not to discriminate, even if unqualified equality is inconsistent with an organisation’s aims, objectives and philosophical stance. Once the Government assumes the right to regulate like this, a change of Government could put the advocates of any ideology or special interest at risk.

To meet the challenge of the upcoming Regulations, 177 pastors of black majority churches sent a joint letter to the Telegraph on 13th July. Writing ‘on behalf of tens of thousands of black British Christians’ the pastors pointed out that

‘Many members of our congregations in London left their home countries to come to England to experience the freedom of living according to their Christian beliefs in a Christian democratic country.

‘But increasingly the Labour Government is discriminating against Christians… The latest discrimination against Christians is the new law called the Sexual Orientation Regulations… The regulations Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality. …This sort of Christianphobia from the Government is no longer acceptable.’



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